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Mapping Dimensions of Conflict at the Federal Convention of 1787

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Abstract

Previous work on the Federal Convention of 1787 hypothesized multiple dimensions of conflict. We evaluate the dimensionality of conflict using a new method for estimating state delegation positions and proposals that incorporates the many divided votes at the convention. The results suggest that three dimensions are adequate for most analyses and the first dimension—proportional representation in the legislature—the most important. Finally, we examine how the agenda unfolds by mapping changes to the status quo throughout the convention. We conclude that, despite the lack of parties, the nature of the conflict is quite organized with a low number of dimensions.

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